The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) today responded to Australian airline Qantas’ reported training of managers in the USA for possible use as strikebreakers in the event of possible industrial action by baggage handlers and ground staff. According to Australian press reports the training has been taking place in secret.
The ITF’s Executive Board, which is composed of global union leaders, is due to discuss the issue when it meets next week in London. ITF general secretary David Cockroft commented: “Any such training would seriously call into question whether Qantas management are actually sincere about any future negotiations with their own personnel. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has publicly said before that he will bargain in good faith with his workforce. It’s difficult to see how that can be compatible with these alleged tactics.”
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “The ITF has no sympathy or tolerance for any employer, wherever they are based, which seeks to undermine the collective bargaining rights of an established workforce.
It is an ITF policy priority to return the airline industry to fair and sustainable labour standards.” “The ITF’s international member unions, together with the MUA, the Australian trade union movement and the wider Australian community, saw off attempts to train strikebreakers abroad during the1998 Patricks dispute. We would not hesitate to do the same again should we be required to do so.” Paddy Crumlin concluded: "In the end, it is the interests of the travelling public, shareholders, the workforce, and most importantly the community, for Qantas to sit down and establish a fair deal with its workforce under Australian workplace laws and processes, and not risk any return to the failed and destructive industrial tactics of that period.”